Location awareness in Hospitality

If you have recently attended HITECH, or you are just planning ahead to enhance customer experiences at your properties, technology should be front and center in your plans.  And surely, location-aware mobile apps are in your short list.© Styleuneed | Dreamstime.com - Hotel Sign With Five Stars

The new paradigm for operators is inter-connectivity of all systems and services.  The Holy Grail is delivering superior experiences to earn customers’ repeat business.

Inter-connectivity touches almost everything, from the phone systems, to the point of sales (POS) across the property, including guestroom keys, safe locks and TV service.  All of these systems feed their data into property management systems (PMS) to compile detailed profiles about guests’ habits and behavior.

Mobile devices already play a starring role, substituting for room and safe keys, managing checkout, serving as virtual concierges to provide guidance and connect with various services, from car rental to laundry.  Some operators are taking things one step further by automating the check in process: as soon as guests set foot in the lobby, their assigned room number is provided, as are directions to the room, the mobile device is enabled to unlock the room and access a range of services.

Naturally, these will be BYOD mobiles, which include not just smart phones, but also tablets.  In the near future, these devices will enable ordering room service, booking local attractions, reading newspapers, managing checkout, tuning the TV, closing the drapes and turning the lights on and off.  The whole world at the guest’s fingertips, and all dutifully remembered by the PMS.

With the proliferation of guests’ mobile devices moving around the property, it is a certainty that many of these services will be location-aware.  From guests managing services in their rooms to operators tracking their guests’ whereabouts, there are many opportunities.  Here’s a peek at some examples of what location awareness can do for guests and property management.

Guest Experience

It is worth noting that location-awareness is a key ingredient of contextualization, that is, the quest to create touch points with guests (customers) in their current context. Satisfaction GuaranteedThat context includes their current location, maybe time-of-day, perhaps weather conditions, past and recent history, sometimes demographics, and perhaps the current stage of the transaction with the provider.  The goal is to deliver personalized and relevant information just-in-time, at the right place.

A branded mobile app is essential.  Guests could use this app to make a reservation, reschedule, cancel or confirm.  Naturally, these activities would take place before arrival.  At arrival time, location-based services kick in.  Some examples:

Automated Check in

Many seasoned travelers would like to dispense with lines and unnecessary hassles before getting to their room.  © Kadmy | Dreamstime.com - Hotel Reception With BellSo, their mobile devices would automatically check in as soon as entering the lobby, would receive an assigned room number and provide turn-by-turn navigation all the way to the room.

Upon approaching the room, the door would unlock upon request (e.g. maybe entering a PIN, for security), and the room would be lit and ready for the arriving guest.

Solution: a proximity-based system at the lobby would detect the mobile device, triggering the automated check in.  An accurate indoor positioning system would provide turn-by-turn navigation.  An indoor tracking system would detect the device approaching the room, unlocking the door.

In-room Guest Services

Guests will have access to in-room services via a branded mobile app installed on their devices (smart phone, tablet).  © Diego.cervo | Dreamstime.com - Businessman Using Digital Tablet Pc In Hotel RoomThe app would provide control over the operation of the air conditioning, drapes, lighting, TV tuning, safe locking and unlocking, and so on.  Some of these would require entering a PIN number (e.g. safe operation) for extra security.  These local controls would be enabled while the user is in the room.  Some, such as air conditioning setting, may be enabled remotely.

Solution:  a proximity-based system would enable the guest’s mobile devices to manage all room systems while physically inside it.  For instance, Accuware Proximity Engine.

Venue-wide Guest Services

The branded mobile app that enables guests to choose a restaurant and make reservations, check the amenities at the business center, or the pool and spa schedule, will also provide wayfinding.  © Soleilc | Dreamstime.com - Hotel And Hospitality IconsTurn-by-turn indoor navigation from anywhere to anywhere throughout the venue is a basic convenience no guest will do without.

When approaching the receptionist at the restaurant, the guest’s name, and any pertinent information including picture, if available, will be automatically displayed for the maitre d’ to deliver a cordial greeting by name.

Purchases at bars and restaurants, at the souvenir shop or convenience store could be invoiced to the device and charged directly to the room upon guest approval.

Concierge services personnel will be able to address guests by name when they approach their desk.  Information requested by guests, such as programs or schedules of attractions in town, could be delivered directly to their devices.

In cases when guests await the delivery of an order while away somewhere in the venue, it may be convenient for service personnel to be able to locate them.  For instance, a guest orders a drink or snack and then steps outside to take a phone call on their mobile, and sits at a table on the terrace.  Or is focused playing at a casino table.  In these and similar situations, it might be desirable to be able to track the guest’s whereabouts, so that the order can be quietly delivered, in person, right where they are at.

Solutions: an indoor positioning system such as Accuware Indoor Navigation would provide turn-by-turn navigation with sub-meter accuracy. Proximity-based systems or an indoor tracking system such as Wi-Fi Location Monitor would enable media delivery to the device, and would enable charge approvals for guests physically present in the premises. An indoor tracking system can follow a device’s movements indoors and help locate them with accuracy.

Operations

Staff tracking

As we well know, it is hard to manage what we don’t measure.  © Annsunnyday | Dreamstime.com - Hotel And Restaurant Staff IconsIt is important to know where staff members are throughout the day.  Are there service personnel shortages at critical times during the day?  Is everybody stretched too thin?  Should there be additional personnel called in to assist at peak times?  Are staff members available at all key posts throughout the day? Staff tracking can provide the raw information for informed decision making.

Solution: A tracking system like Accuware Wearabouts using Smart Tags or Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor used with Wi-Fi Tags can provide the data for detailed analysis.

Asset Management

Managing valuable mobile assets can be challenging in large properties.  There may be dozens or even hundreds of assets in continuous motion, from golf carts to forklifts, from projection and sound systems to large flat screens.  Keeping track of their whereabouts and being able to locate them quickly is essential to delivering excellent service, performing preventive maintenance, preventing theft, finding missing assets, increasing staff efficiency and optimizing asset utilization.  In all cases, managing assets requires knowing their actual location in real time and historically over time.

Solutions: a tracking system like Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor used with Wi-Fi tags or Accuware Wearabouts with Smart Tags can deliver real-time location and historical usage information.

Guest Flow Analysis

How do guests use the venue?  Where do they spend most of their time?  At what times during the day, week and month?  Which are the best attended facilities in the venue?  Which the most popular activities and amenities?  Did high attendance at some event correlate with any uptick in interest on additional services?  What truly happened?

Solution: a tracking system like Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor can monitor in real time the movement of active devices through an area.   Alternatively, mobile apps integrated with Accuware Wearabouts can deliver real-time tracking in environments rich in ambient signals.  Time-stamped data collected about guests’ whereabouts can provide insights into visitors’ movements, and be turned into time-based heat maps that depict the ebbs and flows of crowds.

Behind the scenes

Accuware products provide the location-based platform to enable all this functionality.

Wi-Fi Location Monitor is a real-time locating system (RTLS) designed to track the location of active Wi-Fi devices, including smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi tags and custom Wi-Fi devices anywhere inside a building or throughout a campus, with accuracy down to the floor and room level.

Accuware Indoor Navigation  and Accuware Wearabouts a software-based system designed for mobile apps to obtain their current position using ambient radio signals.

Proximity Engine, a feature of Wi-Fi Location Monitorenables location-based actions, such as delivering media, triggered by the presence of registered Wi-Fi mobile devices at specific locations of interest.

Analytics, also a feature of Wi-Fi Location Monitor, measures, logs and displays visitor traffic in real-time and historically over time by counting the number of active Wi-Fi devices nearby.

Accuware Wi-Fi Tags to be used with Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor and Accuware Smart Tags, to be used with Accuware Wearabouts enable tracking the movements of personnel and valuable assets.

Used singly, or in combination, these products enable cutting-edge applications that deliver tangible business value.

Accuware Wi-Fi Tracker (Indoor Triangulation System)

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